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Lemohang Rakotsoane

MASERU – MINISTER of Trade Joshua Setipa says it is important for donors to help manage perceptions about Lesotho if this country is to graduate from being least developed country.

Setipa said this during the launch of the 2016 Least Developed Countries (LDC) Report yesterday at the UN House.
“Perceptions also count. If you are viewed to be unstable and unsafe you will never make it out of the least developed countries,” Setipa said.
“It is our duty as a government to maintain political stability,” he said.
“We should let people exercise their democratic right and change governments in parliament and not with a barrel of a gun.”
He said Italy has had 54 governments in 52 years but is not viewed as unstable.
“Even in South Africa there is a motion of no confidence in parliament every week yet they are not perceived unstable but when our people exercise their democratic right we are seen as unstable.”

The minister said donor community should also take some responsibility “otherwise every dollar or every form of assistance they give to Lesotho will not bear the desired results”.
He said as long as Lesotho is still perceived as unstable “we will never graduate or attract the necessary investors”.
He further said there is a need to evaluate LDCs differently “as different countries have different landscapes and different needs”.
He stated that landlocked countries like Lesotho need a well-coordinated regional integration strategy for their economies to grow.
Motulu Molapo, Senior Economist at the Ministry of Development Planning said the LDCs adopted the Istanbul Program of Action (IPoA) in 2011 in Turkey.
“The overarching goal of the Programme of Action for the decade 2011-2020 is to overcome the structural challenges faced by the least developed countries in order to eradicate poverty, achieve internationally agreed development goals and enable graduation from the least developed country category,” Molapo said.
The challenges Molapo referred to include low per capita income, low level of human development, and economic and structural handicaps to growth that limit resilience to vulnerabilities.

“Following the adoption of the IPoA by the LDCs, Lesotho completed its five-year medium term strategy, the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 12/13 – 2016/17),” she said.
“This was an opportunity for the country to integrate the IPoA into the NSDP.”
Molapo said the NSDP served as a vehicle for implementation of the IPoA.
“NSDP strategic goals were developed in line with the eight IPoA priorities,” she said.
Molapo further said although the country has not been able to meet the set targets there has been progress towards that especially in the areas that are used on the criteria like GNI Per Capita, human asset index and economic vulnerability.

“The GNI per Capita stands at US$1 374 (about M18 755). This is above the graduation threshold of US$1 242 (about M16 953) but far below the graduation threshold income. The country’s GNI per capita is lower than the LDCs average of US$1 436 (about M19 604),” she said.
Molapo said the country has been working at driving sustainable economic growth through a private sector led employment creation.
She said this means facilitating private investments in the main employment creating productive sectors such as commercial agriculture, mining, manufacturing and services sectors such as tourism and construction.

She said the country’s Human Assets Index (HAI) is 62.9.
This is below the target but higher than the LDCs average of 51.5.
The human asset index reflects performance in the reduction of under-five mortality rate and percentage of population undernourished.
It also informs about the adult literacy rate and gross secondary school enrolment ratio.
Enrolment rates in secondary schools have been increasing over the years.
The total net enrolment rate has been increasing from 34.2 percent in 2010 to 37.3 percent in 2013.
Despite an upward trend in secondary school NER, the rate of increase remains low.

This low rate of increase is associated with unaffordable fees by most poor families as bursaries are only provided to Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC), Molapo said.
“There has been a decrease in under-five mortality rate from 117 recorded in 2009 to 85 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014,” she said.
Molapo said Under 5 mortality rate was reduced through improved access to emergency obstetric care service, among others.
Another factor is engagement of skilled health or birth attendants at all health centres, scaling up reproductive health education including promotion of family planning services and essential nutrition packages for pregnant and lactating mothers.“Economic Vulnerability Index (EVI) is at 42.9 which is higher than the graduation threshold of 32 or below. This shows that the country is vulnerable to natural and other economic shocks,” Molapo said.

She showed that there are several challenges like limited financial resources, reporting challenges as well as the lack of functional monitoring and evaluation body, posing as obstacles in the way of achieving the desired IPoA targets.
Sam Rapapa, the MP for Mosalemane, said MPs and politicians should be helped to disseminate the information to people and encourage them to partake in order to enable Lesotho to graduate from being one the LDCs.

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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